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Belmont, NC, Family Doctors to Join Tryon Medical Partners – Gaston

SEVEN DOCTORS FROM CAROMONT HEALTH’S SOUTH POINT FAMILY PRACTICE TO JOIN TRYON MEDICAL PARTNERS

  • The seven doctors filed civil litigation with Gaston Superior Court today asking the court to declare that the doctor’s “non-compete” agreements are unenforceable.
  • Tryon and the doctors will open a clinic called Tryon Medical Partners – Gaston, which will be conveniently located in Gaston County, on Dec. 2, 2019.

CHARLOTTE, NC — Tryon Medical Partners announced today that seven family practice doctors currently with CaroMont Medical Group Inc.’s South Point Family Practice in Gaston County will be joining Tryon Medical Partners as full partners in early December.

The seven doctors serve more than 20,000 patients in the Gaston County region. They gave their 90-day resignation notice as provided for in their employment agreements with CaroMont on August 23, 2019.

The seven doctors had hoped to be able to work constructively with CaroMont to reach an amicable settlement to resolve issues related to the separation. Regrettably, these efforts have not been successful, which resulted in the civil litigation being filed today in Gaston County Superior Court asking the court to declare that the restrictive covenants in the doctors’ employment agreements are unenforceable.

Specifically, today’s court filing seeks to address CaroMont’s “interpretation of the restrictive covenants contained in the employment agreements.” CaroMont, a non-profit corporation, has contended that the doctors working with Tryon Medical Partners in Gaston County would amount to assisting a competing healthcare system in violation of the restrictive covenant in the employment agreements, which CaroMont has interpreted as preventing the departing doctors from seeing patients within 20 miles of their current location at South Point Family Practice for two years.

“The bottom line is that scope of the restrictive covenants is overbroad and unreasonable, and CaroMont’s effort to enforce these agreements goes far beyond what is reasonably necessary to protect any legitimate business interest of CaroMont,” said Dr. Brian Wysong, one of the seven physicians joining Tryon Medical Partners. “We had hoped to come to a mutually-satisfactory agreement with CaroMont regarding our transition, but CaroMont’s position and proposals have been unreasonable, leaving us no choice but to file today’s litigation.”

“We are eager to move forward with this legal process as rapidly as possible and to begin working within an independent private practice that can put the patient first vs. working within a large bureaucracy,” Wysong added.

“Tryon is thrilled to welcome these excellent family practice doctors to Tryon Medical Partners as we celebrate our first anniversary,” said Tryon Medical Partners CEO Dr. Dale Owen, who also is a cardiologist with the practice.

“The foundation of any meaningful solution to the healthcare crisis must be rooted in more collaboration among primary care doctors and making primary care medicine more available to patients,” Owen said. “By joining family and internal medicine doctors together, we will increase our ability to serve patients of all ages.”

To ensure their patients have continuity of care, the doctors expect to continue to practice with CaroMont until the end of November at the end of their 90-day notice period.

NC Medical Board process will be followed in contacting patients
The doctors will also be seeking to work with CaroMont to provide notice to patients regarding every patient’s right to choose his or her provider, which would include the right to follow the doctors to Tryon Medical Partners or move to another doctor. The doctors will follow the process outlined by the North Carolina Medical Board.

The seven doctors existing and prospective patients can also call 704-800-4268 to reach a Tryon Management Services representative or go to tryonmed.com/gaston for information about the transition and becoming patients of the practice.

More than 110,000 patients have registered with Tryon Medical Partners since the practice opened on Sept. 5, 2018. Tryon’s human resources team will begin the process in the coming weeks of hiring approximately 15 to 20 medical professionals who will support the clinic’s seven physicians.

The following are the doctors from CaroMont Health’s South Point Family Practice who will join Tryon Medical Partners as full partners:

  • Dr. David Locklear MD
  • Dr. Jessica Kafer MD
  • Dr. Michael McCartney MD
  • Dr. Gregory O’Leary MD
  • Dr. Derek Reed DO
  • Dr. Caroline Stephens MD
  • Dr. Brian Wysong MD

Tryon Medical Partners – Gaston will be Tryon’s first clinic in Gaston County and will total approximately 20,000 square feet.

Tryon Medical Partners
Tryon Medical Partners is a doctor-owned and financed medical practice currently with 64 internists and 25 specialty physicians covering cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, pulmonary and sleep medicine.

New patients can continue to join Tryon Medical Partners online, or by calling 704-495-6334. Tryon Medical Partners accepts all major medical insurance carriers.

In June 2019, Tryon Medical Partners announced “Tryon Direct” to self-insured mid-sized and large businesses in the Charlotte region. This new offering provides participating businesses with unlimited and same day appointments with their primary care physicians — and will enable participating businesses to reduce their overall healthcare costs by 15-25% annually. Tryon Direct’s sales efforts are led by Patrick Brady, who most recently was the director of major and national accounts with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

More information about the practice is at tryonmed.com and on Facebook.

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The following provides a response from Tryon Medical Partners to CaroMont Health’s Sept. 12 statement in response to Tryon litigation. 

Before CaroMont Health focused on the fact that the Tryon Endoscopy Center is a licensed entity in conversations that began when the seven Family Practice doctors resigned Aug. 23, CaroMont appeared to seeking a constructive resolution to any issues related to the departure of the doctors. This attitude lasted a week. Over the past two weeks, discussions with CaroMont stalled and they indicated that they would send us a settlement proposal on their own timetable. When they did finally respond on Sept. 11, at 6:00 p.m., the “reasonable options” in their settlement offer included far more than the original covenants in the employment agreements, including:
  • Preventing the doctors from soliciting people CaroMont is interested in hiring for five years
  • Demanding that the doctors and Tryon Medical Partners not oppose CaroMont’s certificate of need applications
  • Agreeing that the doctors must maintain privileges in CaroMont Health hospitals for five years
  • Demanding a very hefty payment per doctor — that totaled approximately $1.8 million.
Clearly this settlement offer is not constructive or reasonable, so we followed through with our plan (previously discussed with CaroMont as our response to anything more than a “nominal settlement offer” by them) and filed litigation Sept. 12.

The following is CaroMont’s Sept. 12 statement that appeared in a Sept. 12 The Charlotte Observer story covering Tryon’s litigation – for reference. 

“Since being notified of the physicians’ intent to resign their positions just three weeks ago, CaroMont Health has fully cooperated in discussions with them and their attorney until this afternoon,” the hospital system said in a statement. “We have presented several fair and reasonable options that would allow the physicians to join Tryon Medical Partners, continue to practice in Gaston County and fulfill their contractual obligations. Unfortunately, all attempts to negotiate have been declined.”